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Derek Mason: “These guys are prepared to respond”

The Vanderbilt head coach thinks the team has issues that need to be fixed.

NCAA Football: SEC Football Media Day Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Mason took to the podium for his weekly press conference ahead of Saturday’s game against UNLV. We recap his comments below.

  • We watched the film together as a unit (offense, defense, and special teams) to clarify where exactly we’re at. You try to let guys see how the individual performance affects the individual accomplishment. We’re trying to grasp the opportunity that is UNLV. These guys are going to respond the way we need them to respond. Today’s practice moved us in the right direction. You may believe this is coachspeak but you need to know the buttons you need to push to make sure that guys can delete the data and put themselves in the position to attract new data (his words, not mine.) If you go to practice and you’re not greedy, you eat a small meal. Greedy players eat big meals (okay, this is definitely Mason-speak.) When they get better, the team gets better.
  • How much of the issue is youth? “It’s a heavy part of the equation, but nobody really cares. You play in a conference where nobody forgives you for that.” The mistakes become cumulative in ballgames.
  • Is there a consideration of making a change at quarterback? “I’m evaluating everything right now.” Says that Riley Neal needs to be better, but so does the offense and the defense, and the coaches, and himself. “The blame is with us.” He asks Commodore Nation to “stick with us.”
  • How did you feel about the second half after saying you wanted to open the offense up? (coachspeak response)
  • Riley Neal needs to play better, and also the playcalling needs to be more suited to his strengths. There are also a lot of issues around him, like the offensive line. We can’t just dink and dunk, we have to go downfield.
  • What’s wrong with the defense? It comes back to doing your job; there’s a maturity factor that has to happen. We haven’t had the same inside linebackers all season. You have to have consistency, but when you don’t get game to game consistency, I have two redshirt freshmen leading our team in tackles, which isn’t what you want. Everybody has to do their job. It just hasn’t been consistent enough for us to call it good football.
  • Kalija Lipscomb said there was maybe a little panic in the locker room. “If he’s going to spin it, that may be his feeling.” These guys are prepared to respond.
  • What does UNLV do well? “They’re trying to find it on offense, defense, and special teams.” (Ed. note: coachspeak to say UNLV is ass, which is the correct assessment)
  • What has Deuce Wallace done well? He’s been consistent and solid. (Ed. note: OH MY GOD YOU’RE KILLING ME)
  • Deuce Wallace has earned the right to see the field. (Ed. note: QB controversy is real.)

Also, Vanderbilt released the latest depth chart:

On offense, the biggest item of interest is what hasn’t changed: Riley Neal is still the starting quarterback ahead of Deuce Wallace. At center, Sean McMoore has moved ahead of Grant MIller in what’s still technically an “or” situation.

On the defensive side of the ball, there are a few realities reflected and hedging against possible injury returns. Dimitri Moore and Feleti Afemui are now listed as the starting inside linebackers, because they are, while Tae Daley maybe coming back from injury is reflected in his “or” designation with Brendon Harris — though obviously you have to factor in that Harris has played reasonably well in Daley’s absence. At corner, Cam Watkins is back, and B.J. Anderson and Randall Haynie are co-starters at the opposite corner position.